MacKenzie Gore was chosen with the No. 3 overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft on Monday night by the San Diego Padres.
Here are some things to know about him:
School: Whiteville (Whiteville, N.C.)
Why he’s a top prospect: Gore’s strength comes in his versatility, not just his velocity. A fastball in the low 90s is impressive enough, but he also mixes three other pitches to keep batters off guard: A plus slider, plus slider and very strong curveball. MLB Draft expert Jim Callis also feels that Gore has as repeatable a delivery as any pitching prospect in the 2017 Draft. If competitiveness is a factor, it’s hard to top Gore there, either.
The numbers: Led his team to its third state title in four seasons, going 11-0 with a 0.19 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. He hit .478 with 29 RBI in 90 at-bats.
The delivery: As he swivels in his windup, the 6-2 senior’s right knee reaches improbably high, nearly touching his left shoulder, before he steps into his pitch and uncorks a fastball that has topped out at 96 mph.
“I really don’t know where I got it from,” Gore said. “It’s something that I started in middle school. I was always taught to turn and show the hip pocket. I don’t know why I started it, but I was able to repeat it.”
His town: Whiteville is home to only 5,600 people, but it has a strong baseball tradition, with 11 players drafted since 1983, including three who made it to the majors. In the mid-80s, two players from the Whiteville High, pitcher Tommy Greene and outfielder Pat Lennon, were selected in the first round in back-to-back years and they went on to the majors. Current Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Wright went to Whiteville.
Getting bigger: “This year, I gained about 15 pounds and got a lot stronger,” Gore said. “This spring, I’ve been able to throw all my pitches for strikes, hit my spots with my fastball more consistently and throw off-speed any time in the count and have a better feeling for all of them.”
Nicknames: My favorite is probably the Fearless Leader. I’ve also heard 96 because I’ve hit 96 mph or Kenzie, which I’m a little old for now. But probably my least favorite is Mac.
Favorite MLB player: Madison Bumgarner. He’s from North Carolina and I like the way he plays and competes.
Mistake I learned from: When I was a freshman, going into sophomore year, the way I was acting. I learned from that. Coach got on me and sat me down. I was getting a little big-headed.
Contributing: Jim Halley and Cam Smith